Sunday, July 19th, 2015

Recollections Of Richard Hughes And County Win At Scarborough

Recollections Of Richard Hughes And County Win At Scarborough

Worcestershire's current LV = County Championship match against Yorkshire at Scarborough brings back memories of a game on that ground between the two counties in August 1951 when the visitors won and Warwickshire became champions.

Three players survive from that fixture played 64 years ago in Brian Close and Roy Booth for Yorkshire and Richard Hughes of Worcestershire.

Close and Booth need no introduction after their long and distinguished careers but Hughes made just eight first-class appearances.

He was born in Watford, Hertfordshire in 1926 and attended Watford Boys Grammar School in the late 1930s and early 1940s where he was coached by former Worcestershire player ‘Percy’ Tarbox.

Hughes left school in 1943 and after the war was influential in forming a Watford G.S. 'Old Boys' side, 'Old Fullerians’.

Tarbox kept an eye on Hughes' progress and recommended his former pupil to his old county as a left arm fast medium bowler.

Following a successful trial Hughes signed a two year contract with Worcestershire for 1951 and 1952. Yorkshire went into the game at Scarborough in second place but lacked five players because of England duty and injury, in Hutton, Lowson, Watson, Brennan and Yardley.

They were some way behind the leaders Warwickshire and needed a victory to maintain any chance of winning the title.

Worcestershire batted first and scored 271, due largely to a patient 145 from Don Kenyon. The following day Yorkshire’s reply foundered and they made only 114 with Reg Perks taking six wickets.

However, Yorkshire’s bowlers, including Trueman, Appleyard – who was on his way to taking 200 wickets in his debut season – and Wardle, then bowled the visitors out for just 92.

Ronnie Bird gave the innings a semblance of respectability with an unbeaten 41.

Worcestershire's innings lasted into the 68th over but with wickets falling quite regularly the spectators had plenty to interest them and Yorkshire required 250 runs to win on the last day.

The rate required was a run a minute as final days were then often much shorter than the first and second to allow time for travel to the next fixture.

Yorkshire settled down well to the task, batting well for much of the day and at 232-5 seemed about to complete a splendid fightback.

However, the spin pair, Dick Howorth and Roly Jenkins, suddenly and unexpectedly caused a late collapse to 241 all out.

Worcestershire had won by eight runs and Hughes contributed the wicket of Ted Lester in the second innings, caught by Kenyon.

Yorkshire’s defeat at ten minutes to four secured the championship for Warwickshire, only their second ever title, whilst Worcestershire’s win helped them finish the season in a highly creditable fourth position.

Hughes had shown good potential in his first season but he was starting an insurance business in Pinner and envisaged that the venture, if successful, would be his long term future.

His deal with Worcestershire made married life with a mortgage financially challenging and he soon found that the business held better prospects.

Consequently, despite his great pleasure in playing the first-class game, Hughes asked to be released from his contract during the winter.

He then played club cricket for Harrow Town and Minor Counties cricket for his native Hertfordshire until injury caused his retirement in 1960.

However, he attended Worcestershire player re-unions until quite recently and spoke warmly of Tom Graveney in particular, “ a great gentleman and cricketer”.

He says “Although my time at Worcester was very short, I found the whole experience wonderful, meeting and playing with famous cricketers, something I never ever contemplated “.

*Richard and his wife were guests of Worcestershire Heritage Group chairman and Worcestershire Cricket Board member Tim Jones at New Road for the championship fixture against Hampshire in early July.